Military Option in Syria Remains Viable – Riyadh

A MILITARY option in Syria was still viable and support for the opposition fighting to oust President Bashar Al-Assad would continue, the Kingdom said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir also said Riyadh was in contact with various Syrian opposition groups about a potential meeting in the Kingdom to unify their position ahead of upcoming peace talks in Vienna. Al-Jubeir did not give a date for any meeting.

“The military option is still viable and the support to the Syrian opposition is still continuing,” Al-Jubeir told the news conference.

“If it (the conference) happens, its aim will be to unify the Syrian opposition and help them to come out with one vision so that it can play an active role in the talks to reach a peaceful solution that leads to the removal of Bashar Al-Assad,” he added.

International talks were held in Vienna earlier this month in which Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — laid out a plan including formal talks between the government and opposition by Jan. 1.

Division in Syrian opposition ranks is often cited as one of many obstacles facing diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

The opposition includes the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition, a political body, and a wide array of rebel groups that are not united in a single military structure and do not answer to any of the political factions.

Al-Jubeir said it would not deal with any groups designated on any terrorism lists.

During the press conference, Al-Jubeir and his Austrian counterpart also talked about the situation in Yemen.

Meanwhile, a Hezbollah TV station said a joint operation by the Lebanese militant group and Syrian security agents killed a Daesh (the so-called IS) figure suspected of involvement in Beirut’s deadly bombing earlier this month.

AL-Manar TV says Abdul-Salam Hendawi, also known as Abu Abdo, died in an ambush in a Daesh-held area in Syria’s central province of Homs.

It says Hendawi was responsible for bringing into Lebanon two suicide bombers who carried out the Nov. 12 attack in southern Beirut. The attack killed 43 people and wounded more than 200.

Thursday’s report did not say when the ambush on Hendawi took place. It added that his main job was to transport suicide attackers from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa into Lebanon. Daesh did not immediately confirm Hendawi’s death.



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